Uncanny X-Men annual #4
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men annual #4
Nightcrawler's backstory is one of the better examples of the hysteria that mutants have faced. He looked like a demon and was feared and mistrusted because of it. Throwing actual demons into his backstory complicates matters and gives the ignorant villagers a legitimate reason for their actions. And it's actually worse than that. Instead of Nightcrawler just being chased by villagers because of his looks, it turns out that Nightcrawler wound up killing his step-brother Stefan, who turned evil...
...and the villagers saw Nightcrawler carrying his body, and therefore the real reason they wound up chasing him is because they thought he was a murderer.
Dr. Strange joins the X-Men in this story...
...and helps them navigate through a phony version of Dante's Inferno to help Amanda, Nightcrawler, and their mother work through a past misunderstanding.
This isn't exactly a top quality issue. It's not horrible, but it's a bit throwaway despite JRJR's nice art...
...and it's a bit damaging to Nightcrawler's character and the X-Men's focus on the mutant theme, in my opinion.
Well, it's not entirely throwaway. Claremont uses this issue to officially welcome Kitty Pryde as a member of the team.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Wolverine is still wearing his yellow and blue costume, placing this before Uncanny X-Men #139.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showAmanda Sefton, Colossus, Dr. Strange, Margali Szardos, Nightcrawler, Professor X, Shadowcat (Kitty Pryde), Storm, Wolverine
Huh, shouldn't this take place before X-Men 139?
Posted by: Chaim Shraga | June 12, 2012 12:33 PM
Can you say why you think so?
I'm traveling right now and can't check but i thought this was a standalone issue with no dependencies.
Posted by: fnord12 | June 12, 2012 4:43 PM
I think he means that Wolverine is wearing his yellow costume in this issue but he starts wearing his brown costume in Uncanny X-Men 139, so this has to take place before issue 139.
Posted by: Michael | June 12, 2012 7:35 PM
Thanks Chaim and Michael. I've moved this back a bit to account for Wolverine's costume.
I also see that i'm out of sync with the MCP on Dr. Strange's appearance, but i think his guest appearances here, Cap #250, and ASM annual #14 should be able to fit in any gap in his book and the Defenders.
Posted by: fnord12 | June 12, 2012 8:18 PM
I never got the double fake-out: Margali built the fake Hell, but Amanda sent them all there, posing as Margali, in order to show Margali that Nightcrawler wasn't a bad guy. It seemed like an incredibly roundabout and risky approach.
I love how, in the Marvel Universe, Dante Alighieri ACTUALLY went to Hell. I feel like that should be an issue of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The real disappointment is, if you told me today that JRJr was going to do a giant-size story comic of the X-Men in Hell, I would expect something really awesome. This was really tame and basically looked nothing like him except for the faces on Minos and Margali. I can understand why Claremont was never enamoured of JRJr on the title. How much better a job would he have done if it was after his run on Daredevil, what with the Dire-Wraith-looking Mephisto!
I was also disappointed how this story thoroughly undermined the mutant panic thing in his original appearance. Originally, he's just misunderstood, and everyone hates him because he's different! Now they were after him because he snapped his brother's neck.
A lot of Claremont's little reveals in this Annual were rather contrived too, such as when Nightcrawler falls unconscious, Storm is like, "hey, when I was a kid, I learned how to disable burglar alarms! That means I can totally figure out this bleeding-edge medical scanning technology (that probably has alien components) without a sweat!"
Given revelations over recent years (that Mein Gott they used in First Class), my favourite part of this story though is when Doctor Strange determines that Nightcrawler is not even part-demon. If the Eye of Agamotto has spoken, that's that. And Claremont was writing Dr. Strange at the time, so it's totally legit!
The greatest thing in this comic though is the letters column and all the Dark Phoenix overflow.
Posted by: Nathan Adler | June 12, 2012 8:26 PM
The "Dante actually went to Hell" idea is potentially in conflict with the other fake Inferno introduced in Ka-Zar the Savage, since in that series Dante is actually a part of Belasco's origin. Did he see the fake one first and then go to Hell, or vice versa, or what? Maybe we do need Hickman to sort it all out in SHIELD.
Posted by: fnord12 | June 12, 2012 8:36 PM
I think Hickman missed a major opportunity when he introduced Isaac Newton and Morga's child, Leonid, by not revealing Newton as Phaeder given he and Morga were the parents of the Cosmic Assassin, Maelstrom.
Posted by: Nathan Adler | June 12, 2012 9:31 PM
Klaus Janson was the originally announced inker for this.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | September 2, 2012 6:32 PM
We never did discover a back story for Margali Szardos but I think I've finally determined Claremont's real intent (which thankfully wipes out my previous theory of Magda becoming Mystique which I was never comfortable with:). Her names are telling to what Claremont may have intended though.
Posted by: Nathan Adler | June 14, 2013 5:16 PM
I read this as a back issue a couple of years after it came out. To the 12 year old me it was very heavy and "literary" and important. Made comics seem "legitimate" to me...if that makes sense.
Posted by: MOCK! | February 24, 2014 7:57 AM
Nathan, can't we just ask Claremont what he intended? He used Margali even in his Ff so clearly he likes her. The Magda idea is both intriguing and weird. Magneto would be Kurt's uncle kinda? ☺
Posted by: PeterA | June 18, 2015 11:46 AM
@PeterA: I've tried. His wife Beth advises that he can't speak directly to previous abandoned plots due to being under exclusive contract with Marvel:(
Posted by: Nathan Adler | June 18, 2015 4:18 PM
Interesting about Margali being Magda. However, I'm of the mind that Magda, while she did change her name to hide from Magneto, changed it to Natalya, the Scarlet Witch's retconned mother, first seen recently in SCARLET WITCH #4. I think Magda is the daughter of Django and Marya Maximoff, an unseen daughter never revealed by Django. I mean, look how similar the names Marya and Magda are. And this would explain why Magda looks exactly like Wanda, who looks exactly like Natalya, who looks exactly like Magda. This would preserve Wanda's origina, at least in regards to her mother. So far, her real father remains unrevealed. Natalya mentioned him, but didn't call him by name.
Posted by: Andrew Burke | May 21, 2016 2:49 PM
...I just read Uncanny X-men 100-150 (circa), and have zero recollection of this Amanda Sefton.
I will have to go back using your character tracking and make sure she is actually there. I can't remember her at all.
Posted by: Karel | December 20, 2016 6:25 PM
You're not going to find more than offhand mentions and cameo appearances; her most substantial appearance to this point was in Marvel Team-Up #89, and near as I can tell from fnord's recaps her most substantial mention in the Uncanny series to this point was actually in #109, where she didn't actually appear (though #123-4, where she's kidnapped as part of Arcade's plot, might also count). I think this is the earliest in fnord's project that he actually has a scan that mentions her last name.
Posted by: Morgan Wick | December 21, 2016 8:54 PM
You are exactly right.
Posted by: Karel | December 22, 2016 8:17 AM
I never got comfortable with Nightcrawler sleeping with his step sister.
Posted by: adriano | October 16, 2017 9:10 PM
Not to bring up weird subjects, but don't you think then neophyte artist JRjr was an interesting choice of artist? @Nathan, I believe he may have been a victim of sexual abuse. I say this only because of the recent revelations regarding Hollywood and the likes of Harvey Weinstein and his ilk.
Posted by: VtCG | January 8, 2018 10:38 AM
There's an interesting Brian Cronin article that suggests this is the first time we get a hint that Wolverine is substantially older than he looks. Wolverine's thought bubbles reference the winter in Monte Cassino, Italy. This was a battle between Allied forces (including Canadian soldiers) and the Italians near Monte Cassino in the winter of 1944/1945, which as of the time this was published would have made Logan at least in his mid-50s.
Posted by: Andrew | May 30, 2018 1:09 PM
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